I’m using the homosexual population as an example for two reasons:
1) They are one of the most stigmatized and alienated populations in the world, especially in the Christian community. Their suicide rates are staggering, and we have the option to contribute to that, or to help heal it.
2) This issue is a very present and ongoing debate in our culture, especially in Christian culture. I want us to remember to humanize our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community rather than use them as a pawn in an argument, regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on.
I can’t help but think that God is happier when we reach out and love the other (in this case, the homosexual) than when we preach at them and drive them away. I wonder which is a more heinous sin: To be gay, or to drive someone away from Jesus’ church because they are gay.
Maybe it’s not just homosexuality. Maybe you see someone smoking a cigarette and fear that by loving them, you are encouraging smoking. Or alcohol. Or weed. Or dancing. Or reading Rob Bell. Whatever it is, don’t let it become a wall between you and this human.
Yesterday I sat in a Chick-Fil-A and listened to these two old ladies gossip about their friends for an hour. Personally, I’d rather welcome a kind gay person into my church than a gossiping straight person. They are included in the same list of sinners as the gay couple, are they not?
I think I’ve spent much of my life in fear: fear that if I was too loving to those outside of Christian circles, I would somehow be in error and sinning. I feared that by accepting them and loving them, I would also be approving of their sins and therefore, God would be angry with me.
This is the definition of having fear mixed into our love, which is directly opposed to John’s words, “there is no fear in love.”
Isn’t that stupid? Do you ever think like this in the back of your mind, or am I alone here? I think we need to ask ourselves some questions to root out the basis of this thinking. Do I trust that God knows what He’s doing in them, and my sole mission is to love them, regardless of the sins they’re doing? Do we trust the Holy Spirit enough to do His job of convicting people of their sin, or do we feel like we need to do it for Him?
(I worded it like that intentionally to sound sophomoric and naive. I mean, you accept your close friends despite their own sins and struggles; chances are, their sins just look more like your own. Mark Sayers says we are more likely to sin in the direction we already lean. If you’re a Democrat, you’re probably not going to suddenly become racist. If you’re a Republican, you’re likely not going to suddenly start celebrating abortion. . . Make sense?)
I think there is a balance here, of course. The Bible says Jesus is full of grace AND truth. We need to strike a balance, just like in everything, but I guess I’ve realized that much of my life has been lived with 90% truth and 10% grace.
I’m beginning to understand what an old school pastor meant when he preached, “If I’m going to err in one direction, I would rather err toward love and grace.” I just can’t read the Bible and come away with this mentality of alienation, judgment, and any sort of lifestyle that would further push people away from Christ.
So may we be people of grace AND truth. May we be people who focus on drawing people toward Jesus, rather than pushing them away (in the name of love). May we look more like the repentant prostitutes than the pious Pharisees, recognizing our own sinfulness long before calling out others.’